Most actors have a leisurely morning before the big interview. By the time Shannen Doherty arrives at Castaic Lake park, the rustic Santa Clarita hiking-and-fishing retreat, she has already been sentenced to three years of probation, a $1,500 fine, and, in lieu of jail time, some serious community service.

What an interesting six months it's been for Doherty. Last May, the beleaguered brunette was exorcised from Charmed, the kittens-with-cleavage Aaron Spelling production where she practiced white magic for the past three seasons. Then came December, an unjolly month that found the 30-year-old witch-manqué arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, an offense that entailed a ten-hour layover in the county lockup. Nevertheless, like a road-tested professional—Doherty started working in Pepsi commercials when she was 10—she's here today to plug two high-profile upcoming projects: Miramax's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Another Day, a Francis Ford Coppola TV movie for USA. Basically, Doherty is prepared to spend a chatty afternoon spread on a blanket looking casually carnal in a slip dress, trying to erase the memory of that 9 a.m. visit to Ventura Superior Court.

"I'm sooo sick of defending myself," says the former 1988 Youth Ambassador for the American Lung Association as she fires up the first of many Marlboro Lights. "It was an exhausting, exhausting year," Doherty adds. "And then I made the biggest mistake of my life."

During her fabled 90210 phase, Doherty was a party girl with a purpose—slamming kamikazes at the Roxbury, allegedly threatening to run over her ex-fiancé Dean Factor (who later got a restraining order against her), and marrying Ashley Hamilton after a two-week courtship. But since then—well, at least, since 1997, when she was forced into court-ordered anger-management therapy for throwing a beer bottle at a man's car outside a bar—Doherty's pagan impulses had remained in check.

Until that unfortunate evening three days after Christmas. "I went to a bar and drank too much," she admits. "But I was with a sober friend who was driving. Afterward we even went to Jack in the Box. I thought I was fine, I really did. Then I got in the car." Before you could say "I hate Brenda," the LAPD pulled her over, a Breathalyzer test was refused, and Doherty was in jail. "How could I be so stupid?!" she shudders. "I was completely devastated and humiliated. I couldn't leave my house for a month."